That News Was Wrong
Harrisburg School District did apply for the State grant….last year.
On July 18th, The Patriot News ran an article titled, “Harrisburg School District didn’t apply for state grants”. While the article correctly stated that the Harrisburg School District applied for the 21st Century Communty Learning Challenge (21 st CCLC) grant last year, what it failed to explain is that the grant is a multi-year grant. According to last year’s grant awards list, the Harrisburg School District was one of 57 awardees. The District was granted $1,500,000 distributed over three years from 2011 through 2014. Thus, there was no need to apply for the grant this year since it already has its allotted money.
The money it’s been awarded is used to fund the E.X.P.L.O.R.E after school program, which is offered at multiple sites around the City of Harrisburg to give students a place to continue their learning and guidance once school is over for the day. Per the District’s website, “E.X.P.L.O.R.E. sites offer students a standards-based academic program, computer-assisted instruction, cultural and enrichment activities, and recreation.” Offered from 3:00 to 6:00pm everyday, E.X.P.L.O.R.E provides not only tutoring and extended education, but also a hot meal to every student. In place since 2008, it’s estimated that it takes $500,000 a year to run the program, exactly what Harrisburg School District has been granted from the multi-year award.
The E.X.P.L.O.R.E program meets the criteria of the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative. To be eligible to apply for the grant, a school district must have at least 40% of its students be impoverished. As the name of the initiative declares, the integral purpose of the 21st CCLC is to establish before or after school “learning centers” in high-poverty and low-performing school districts. Grantees must submit quarterly reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Education outlining the performance and operation of the programs the money is used for. Besides a school board transition confusion in 2010 (which was resolved), the E.X.P.L.O.R.E program has not been at risk for discontinuance since its inception. It’s always been funded by 21st CCLC funds. It’s likely as long as the 21st CCLC exists, Harrisburg will continue its habit of applying for the State grant once its funding cycle ends.
The Patriot News article was right about stating the Harrisburg School District is “cash-strapped” and in “poor financial shape.” Coming out of a grave, tense budget process and with extreme difficulties ahead, it’s clear the Harrisburg School District has its problems. Let not misinformation be one of them.
It’s the last thing the Harrisburg community needs.
UPDATE: Citing “confusion among bloggers” (I think they mean me), The Patriot News issues a clarification article: “Harrisburg schools could have received grant money regardless of previous awards, state says”
Access information on 21st Century Community Learning Centers: here
Access last year’s list of 21st CCLC awardees (which includes the Harrisburg School District): 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Grant Awards
Harrisburg School District’s E.X.P.L.O.R.E program: here
Drawing by Ammon Perry: Doodletillomega: Illustrations and Drawings by Ammon Perry